The Duel online movie review - High Quality Modern western with Woody and Hemsworth
I think this movie truly deserves an eight, but I am pumping it up because it has such a low score. Well, first of all, I am a fan of Woody and of Westerns, so that sort of explains my enthusiasm with this movie.
But, there are flaws, and because criticism is much more interesting than compliments, I'll start with those just after a brief summary.
Texas ranger is sent to investigate the killings of numerous Mexicans, close to the border with Texas at Rio Grande (this is set around the time there were land disputes between Mexicans and Americans). He is told that these deaths may or may not be due to a ruthless man which the ranger knows to be the same that has killed his father in the past when he was just a boy. He takes his wife with him and soon learns that the ruthless man is a small town's preacher and that everyone living there is pretty much under his influence.
Liam Hemsworth plays the Texas ranger and I have to say his acting is spot on to what you would expect from this character. Harrelson, while no Brando (which would have been awesome in something like this), is very entertaining playing the part and rightly appears first in the movie's opening credits. To be a fair judge, I do think Woody could have taken the opportunity given to him in this movie to further explore the range of his acting capabilities. Alice Braga, although a Brazilian like me, falls short of doing anything memorable or even a believable role playing..
The script is kind of a hit and miss. On the upside, there is lots of action which makes perfect sense as the story unfolds. On the downside, there are many facts that doesn't make much sense like (spoiler alert): why was the woman so sick, and why would she be so influenced by the preacher? Ultimately, why did the ranger decide to take his wife with him?
Ending my review with the movie's positives. Characters were well written, above average acting, very nice costumes and overall recreation of the time period. The score is very good and leads whoever is watching to the moments of tension. The way the two main characters stand out from the rest is very meaningful, and is purposefully portrayed so that the focus of the movie remains in its title, "the duel" between these two men. They are very different, but when it comes to acting under stress they behave in a very similar manner: they become savage beasts. And few things are more entertaining than watching a high quality modern western with Woody and Hemsworth on opposing sides, both animals waiting for something to trigger their savage side. They both know it will soon happen.